Lake Como and Amalfi Coast are two of Italy’s most scenic destinations. But their reputation for offering amazing sights is where their similarities end. With Lake Como in the north and the Amalfi Coast in the south, they offer a different vibe and experience.
Italy has a plethora of stunning lakes, but none can top the beauty of the magnificent Lake Como. Lake Como has been the playground of the privileged since ancient times. With its deep blue waters fringed by dense forests and backed by the majestic Alps, it’s no wonder why so many have fallen in love with Lake Como.
Serene and picturesque at every corner, Lake Como is every tourist’s tranquil slice of paradise.
What Makes Lake Como Unique?
Charming Small Towns All Over
Lake Como is some of Italy’s most prized gems. It’s a scenic region packed with picturesque towns, sprinkled around a deep blue lake, surrounded by emerald-clad hills. Lake Como has been a sought-after destination since ancient times, and it’s easy to see why.
Part of Lake Como’s allure is the charming towns and villages at your fingertips. It’s easy to spend your day visiting each town and discovering its unique charm.
Some of these are alpine villages that host a ton of things to do, while others are sleepy yet scenic villages. Wander through their winding streets, marvel at their historic architecture, and have a blast! There’s more to Lake Como than the sparkling waters, but it needs an adventurous visitor to uncover its delights.
Como is the area’s principal town that sits right at the lake’s base. It’s a great base to explore all the other towns on Lake Como. But because of this, many tourists don’t stay here long, thinking that it’s only a gateway. But there’s more to this city than that.
Como has a quaint vibe, despite having a city feel. It’s full of traditional Italian restaurants and delis, along with some medieval monuments to marvel at. All these are backed up by a breathtaking lakeside promenade.
And once you’re done exploring Como, you have other charming towns to discover. While there are many of them, here are the ones that you shouldn’t miss—
You have Varenna, a sleepy, pastel-clad fishing village with a romantic feel. Take a romantic stroll through the lush gardens in Villa Monastero. And get a sweeping view of this peaceful town by hiking up Vezio Castle.
Make your way to the flower-fringed streets of Bellagio, one of Lake Como’s most popular towns. This town oozes luxury, from its upscale shopping arcades to its lavish restaurants.
Just across Bellagio is the town of Tremezzo, which is famous for two things. One is Villa Carlotta, a massive garden and villa with hundreds of flower and plant species. The other is the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como’s best luxury hotel.
Soak in the Beauty of the Great Outdoors
Lake Como is one of Italy’s best-loved destinations. It fascinates tourists from across the country and the world mainly for its glorious scenery. With its fairy-tale-like scenery and glamorous reputation, Lake Como never fails to take your breath away.
Look up and see the soaring mountains of the Alps that cradle the lake. With majestic peaks covered in snow and puffy white clouds around it, it’s a picture-worthy sight itself. Sloping down toward the lake are lush, forest-clad hills that frame Italy’s most popular lake.
Lake Como’s stunning natural beauty doesn’t only attract tourists. It also attracts a wide variety of wildlife, making it a slice of paradise for nature lovers.
Across the lake, you’ll find flocks of swans enjoying the waters. Salamanders also run about Lake Como, while other wildlife around is quite elusive. Wildlife spotting in Lake Como can be challenging, but it’s one of the area’s most rewarding draws.
To get the most breathtaking views of Lake Como though, you’ll need to put in a bit of work. The best views of the area are by foot, so strap on your hiking gear and pick any of Lake Como’s majestic trails!
Among the popular ones is the Brunate Trail. At the end of the trail, you’ll view the city of Como from the mountaintops. Along the way, you’ll surround yourself with lush green woods, and you can stop by cabins where you can fuel yourself with local specialties.
A more unique trail is the Larian Triangle. Not only will the natural wonders here leave you in awe. But this trail is also dense with archaeological and anthropological sites to discover.
Enchanting Villas to Explore
One of Lake Como’s iconic sights is the string of pastel-clad villas that frame the deep blue lake. Most of which have lush and colorful gardens, adding an ethereal touch to Lake Como.
Each villa has features that make them so breathtaking. But all combine an intoxicating mix of architecture, history, and art. And because they have one of the world’s most beautiful backdrops, villa-hopping in Lake Como is an unmissable draw.
Most of the villas in Lake Como are privately owned, so you can’t visit them. But there are a variety of impressive villas in the area for you to freely explore. Below is a list of the most noteworthy ones that you can wander through.
Villa Melzi Gardens is among the most-visited villas in Lake Como. Built between 1808 and 1813, this was the summer house of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, who was the vice president of the Napoleonic Republic. Other historic figures have graced this villa too, such as Emperor Ferdinand I, Franz Liszt, and more.
This villa has a maze of glorious botanical gardens. By the lakeside is an avenue of trees and cradling the villa are lush rhododendrons and azaleas. There’s also a Japanese pond here and a hidden cave to discover.
Even with Villa Melzi Gardens’ popularity, Villa del Balbianello is the most famous one. It’s perched on top of a steep headland, surrounded by glistening waters on all three sides.
Its unique location does not only attract tourists. But it’s also been the film set of several Hollywood Movies! Some of these are Casino Royale and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.
Uncover Its Rich History
Natural beauty aside, Lake Como also has historical wonders scattered around the lake. Tucked away in lush natural wonders, these historic sites add to Lake Como’s undeniable beauty.
Lake Como’s reputation as an idyllic retreat has been going on since Roman times. Wandering the cobblestone alleyways around Lake Como, you’ll find history at every turn. And while Lake Como isn’t as packed with history as Rome, it’s still a delight for history buffs.
Arguably the best remnant of Lake Como’s Roman origins is Porta Pretoria. Back in ancient times, this was the main entrance to Como city. Though it suffered at the end of the war against Milan, you can still see its remains today at the Paolo Giovio archaeological museum.
Part of the ancient main entrance is the Porta Torre, a tower that dates back to 1192. It’s among the most interesting medieval monuments in lake Como, dominating the skyline at 131 feet (40 meters) high.
Another unmissable sight is the Duomo of Como, a pure Gothic, 14th-century cathedral. Its marble-clad facade is full of intricate stone carvings and statues, centered on a rose window.
This cathedral is among Italy’s best examples of the 14th century’s transition from Gothic to Renaissance. But it’s only evident when you enter the duomo.
Endless Outdoor Fun
Lake Como’s stunning natural wonders aren’t only for pretty pictures. They’re also for you to enjoy! With the lake’s inviting waters, forest-clad, hills, and snow-capped peaks, there are many ways to have fun in the great outdoors in Lake Como.
When visiting Lake Como, taking a refreshing dip in the deep blue lake is something to look forward to. Due to cold undercurrents and its close location to the mountains, the lake’s water is cool even on a hot day. Although the best time to swim in Lake Como is around July to August when the water is pleasantly warm.
Around Lake Como are tons of swimming areas and open-air swimming pools. Among the popular ones are Spiaggia Pubblica di Bellagio, Spiaggia Lerai, and Lido di Argegno.
If you want a kick of adrenaline, Lake Como is also a great destination for water sports.
Rowing is among the most traditional options, and you can do so in Canottieri Lario. Take advantage of the impressive landscape and go canyoning in the mountains. Lake Como also offers other water sports, such as waterskiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, diving, and more!
Looking for a more relaxing way to spend some time on the waters? You can always go fishing instead.
With its interesting landscape, Lake Como is also a wonderland for biking and hiking. Wander through ancient merchant roads and discover the area’s most scenic routes. These trails will take you through overgrown gardens, old houses, and the foot of the Alps, all framed by lakeside scenery.
A colorful and picturesque coastline in southern Italy is the world-famous Amalfi Coast. The coast is famous for its majestic seaside towns perched against steep, rugged cliffs. Though the coast is an irresistible eye candy, there’s more to this sunbaked paradise than its beauty.
Crowds of tourists flock to the Amalfi Coast mainly for its views and glistening beaches. But the coast has tons of other allures that make give you a more rounded experience. From natural wonders to historical sites, and more, you’ll see why the coast continues to enchant visitors since ancient times.
What Makes Amalfi Coast Unique?
Dazzling Natural Beauty
The Amalfi Coast is worth visiting for the breathtaking views alone. No matter which town on the coast, you’ll have a sweeping view of its colorful landscape from a steep vista. Combining lush greenery, the blue Mediterranean sea, and charming cliffside towns, the Amalfi Coast is unique eye candy.
Amalfi Coast’s iconic views are thanks to its towering limestone cliffs. Along with the coast’s winding roads, the cliffs hide some hidden gems that reward the adventurous traveler.
Part of the quintessential Amalfi Coast experience is hiking up the Trail of the Gods. Its name comes from the impeccable views it offers, and not its difficulty.
The Trail of the Gods is the most scenic walk on the Amalfi Coast. Surround yourself with vineyards, get a cliffside view of the sea, discover caves, and more! Here, you’ll get all the iconic sights that the Amalfi Coast is famous for.
The Amalfi Coast also has tons of grottos to explore. Some are world-famous, such as the Emerald Grotto. This grotto is the Amalfi Coast’s answer to Capri’s Blue Grotto, but it isn’t any less beautiful.
Undeniably Picturesque Towns
Part of what makes the rugged coastline of Amalfi Coast is the fairy-tale-like towns on its cliffs. Spilling down from the cliffs into the turquoise sea, these pastel-colored towns give Amalfi Coast an ethereal feel. Laced with fragrant lemon groves, bougainvillea, and overgrown greenery, the coast is like nowhere else in the world.
Amalfi Coast’s iconic towns are why it’s a social media darling. It’s the famous backdrop of many influential jet-setters, as every corner of the coast is picturesque.
With 13 charming towns, all with their unique charm, the Amalfi Coast spoils you with options on your stay. But among those on the list, Positano and Ravello are the scenic big hitters.
Positano is highly regarded as the most picturesque town on the Amalfi Coast. This is the steepest town on the coast, but that’s where its magic lies. Across the city are thousands of stairs and narrow streets that wind through an array of blush-pink and sunshine-yellow houses.
But no town on the coast is as refined and cultural as the romantic town of Ravello. Perched on its terraced landscape is a city full of art, sprawling gardens, and tons of historical sites. All these over a wondrous view of the Bay of Salerno below.
Italy’s Dreamiest Beach Retreat
The Amalfi Coast is a world-famous resort destination, and it’s been a summertime retreat since Roman times. It’s hard to imagine a trip to the coast without a day on the beach.
As it’s volcanic in origin, the Amalfi Coast’s beaches are mostly pebbly. But they’re well-equipped to indulge avid sunbathers as colorful sunbeds and beach umbrellas dot its shores.
There are a few sandy beaches here though, and they’re often secluded. So while it’s an adventure to look for them, you’ll hog the shore to yourself for an intimate beach day.
Each town has several beaches, along with what they consider the main beach that locals often flock to. So it can get crowded if you’re heading to the well-known ones.
But the Amalfi Coast has some hidden gems to hide too. And not only are they an idyllic, peaceful retreat, but they also have a draw that you won’t find elsewhere.
Santa Croce is a secluded, crescent-shaped pebble beach by mountain cliffs. It’s quite uncrowded, so you can stop your beach hunt here. But go on a kayak tour and you’ll find an even more concealed swimming area, the Runghetiello Grotto.
Fiordo di Crapolla is a more historic swimming spot. In the distant past, this was a popular cove among the ancient Romans. Fronting the cove is an ancient fishing village and a Roman villa. So you’ll be soaking in the sun in the same waters as the Romans did thousands of years ago.
Fascinating Long History
The Amalfi Coast’s enchanting beauty has always been irresistible, even for ancient Greeks and Romans. The coast was an alluring retreat for the powerful and wealthy in the past. Over time, they transformed the landscape and built villas over the coast, which started Amalfi Coast’s big reputation.
Although Rome is the Italian city of choice for history buffs, Amalfi Coast also has its fair share of historical sites. From ancient ruins to well-preserved monuments, you have tons to discover on the coast.
No matter where you are on the coast, it’s easy to start a historic tour with the town’s Duomo. Among the best-loved ones are the cathedrals of Amalfi and Ravello. Each town also has a historic center, from where you can appreciate centuries-old architecture.
But for the best sights, you’ll have to move away from the heart of the town.
Among the best historical sites on the coast, Villa Cimbrone is the most popular. Known as a sprawling land of lush greenery, this 11th-century villa is now a hotel. So you can take your historic trip to a whole new level by staying here!
Amalfi Coast also has ruins that are harder to find. But you shouldn’t miss the Villa Romana, a 1st-century site. This is the largest archaeological site on the coast, where you can wander through rooms filled with ancient finds.
Which Is Better – Lake Como or Amalfi Coast?
While you can’t go wrong with either destination, you’ll have a better time with one that fits your preference best. In general, Lake Como is better if you want a more peaceful retreat. While you should go for the Amalfi Coast if you want a more lively vacation.
Lake Como, despite its popularity, is an uncrowded destination. There are no nightclubs here or any space for big, bustling establishments. But there is an excess of natural wonders here to marvel at or explore.
Surrounding the lake are dense forests that perch on steep hills. Beyond, you’ll find the snow-capped Alps looming over the glistening waters of the lake.
Also, fringing Lake Como are charming towns that are easy to explore. Each with its unique draw, Lake Como offers a varied experience despite its sleepy vibe.
The Amalfi Coast is the best choice if you love an energizing atmosphere. The coast’s lively vibe matches its colorful landscape.
Compared to Lake Como, the Amalfi Coast has a range of establishments. From its nightlife spots, shopping scene, and restaurants, there’s always excitement in the air from day to night.
Lake Como vs. Amalfi Coast for Honeymoon
Both Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast have a romantic flair, so you can’t go wrong with choosing either for your honeymoon. This will all boil down to what you want to do on your trip as a couple.
Lake Como is a sleepier choice that packs sparkling, storybook-like scenery. With tons of charming lake towns to explore and a more casual vibe, it’s a more tranquil spot than the Amalfi Coast. To add, Lake Como is also uncrowded, so you’re sure to have a peaceful time with your spouse here.
Because of its serene vibe and paradisiacal views, Lake Como is better if you want a more relaxed and intimate honeymoon.
The Amalfi Coast is the opposite, as it’s vibrant, bustling with tourists, and packs a ton of adventure. The coast has tons of natural wonders to explore if you two are nature lovers. And it’s also sprinkled with historical landmarks across the coast for you to discover.
And while most of the popular towns on the Amalfi Coast get busy, you can also visit lesser-known towns for a quieter stay. With this, the Amalfi Coast is generally better if you want a livelier, adventure-packed honeymoon.
Is Amalfi Coast Near Lake Como?
They may be in the same country but it takes quite a journey to get from one to the other.
How Far Is Lake Como From Amalfi Coast?
The straight-line distance between the two is 740 km (460 mi). Taking into consideration land transportation options, this can stretch to over 910 km (566 mi).
Lake Como to Amalfi Coast
Reaching the Amalfi Coast from Lake Como can be quite an adventure as you have to go through several cities. To make things easier for you, the best transportation option would be to take the train.
From the western branch of the lake, there’s a train station in the city of Como. From there, you can take a direct train to Milan. The average ticket price on this journey is around 25 USD, and the travel time is just under an hour.
From Milan, take a train to Naples. Average train tickets on this route cost about 57 USD. Trains usually reach Naples in around 5 hours and 11 minutes, sometimes longer.
From Naples, take a train to Salerno, which is already near the Amalfi Coast. The average train ticket price on this trip is around 9 USD. And travel times can be anywhere from 34 minutes to an hour.
Now that you’re in Salerno, make your way to the bus terminal, which is at Vinciprova. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the train station, and here you’ll find Sita buses that head out to the Amalfi Coast every hour.
Lake Como to Amalfi Coast Flight
Unfortunately, both Lake Como nor the Amalfi Coast don’t have an airport. The nearest airport to Lake Como is Milan Airport. While the nearest airport to the Amalfi Coast is Naples Airport.
You can always fly to and from the nearest airports. But from Lake Como, you need to take a train to Milan and then make your way to the airport. And once you arrive at the Naples airport, you still have to travel by bus or taxi to get to the Amalfi Coast.
Amalfi Coast to Lake Como by Train
There are no direct trains from the Amalfi Coast to Lake Como. The Amalfi Coast doesn’t have a train station. So if you want to make your way to Lake Como from the Amalfi Coast, it’ll be quite an adventure.
First, you have to take a bus from the Amalfi Coast to Salerno. And from Salerno, you can take the train to Naples and then take the train again to Milan. Once you’ve reached Milan, you can take the train to the city of Como, which is on the west branch of Lake Como.